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Vulnerabilities / Threats

1/22/2014
01:50 PM
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Power Utility Substations At Risk

"Project Robus" so far has exposed dozens of security flaws in software using popular ICS/SCADA network protocol, but several vendors still have not patched.

Nearly 30 security vulnerabilities so far have been found in products using a popular ICS/SCADA communications protocol, prompting about half of the affected vendors to patch their products and at least one vendor to pull its affected software from the market and urge its customers to instead install another one of its products.

The findings, by researchers Adam Crain and Chris Sistrunk, of potentially dangerous bugs in ICS/SCADA products running the so-called DNP3 protocol -- used for "master" host systems to communicate with equipment at power plant substations -- could be easily exploited by an attacker to disrupt parts of the power grid by crashing the master system so it can no longer monitor and control the SCADA network at a substation or substations. The attacks would entail sending malformed DNP3 response packets back to the master host system by exploiting flaws in the way software using DNP3 is written and deployed.

Cooper Power Systems, which was notified by the researchers of an improper input validation flaw in its Cybectec DNP3 Master OPC Server software, discontinued the server product rather than patch it, and is urging its customers to use its SMP Gateway product -- which doesn't carry the flaw -- as a replacement. The bug could allow an attacker to crash the system and ultimately disrupt the process it was running.

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